Daily, Excess Fruit As Unhealthy As Other Sugars

16 Jun 2013

When I wrote my book Fructose Exposed I received criticism from people who told me that fruit is different from other fructose-containing sources such as table sugar, high fructose corn syrup, honey and the like because it was “natural.” We have been told for years to eat five servings of fresh fruit per day as part of a well-balanced diet.

I learned in writing Fructose Exposed that the source of fructose is irrelevant to the liver’s metabolism of this sugar. The daily, excess consumption of fructose leads to the development of the metabolic syndrome in most of us (see other articles on this website).

A recent article caught my attention because it validates my concerns about excess consumption of fructose derived from fresh fruit. This study was designed to see if a low calorie diet containing about 50 grams of fructose per day or a low calorie minimal fructose diet would lead to the same weight loss and metabolic changes over a six month period of dieting. The fructose was derived almost solely from fresh fruit in the form of apples, bananas, fruit cocktail or fruit preserves.

The study examined overweight or obese individuals with or without diabetes who were suffering from various components of the metabolic syndrome. They were monitored for weight loss, change in waist size, and monitoring of blood levels of metabolism related to diabetes and metabolic syndrome (bad and good cholesterol, triglycerides, uric acid, kidney function).

All patients lost weight over the six month intervention with both diets; however, the minimal fructose diet subjects lost approximately twice as much weight and twice the decrease in their waistline compared with those consuming the excess fructose diet. The non-fruit dieters lost 12% of their body weight compared to 5% for diabetics and 7% in non-diabetic individuals consuming fruit.

More importantly, the diabetes and metabolic syndrome parameters dramatically improved in the minimal fructose diet while those who consumed approximately 50 grams of fructose-containing fruit per day saw no change or worsening of their biochemical profiles.

The people consuming daily, excess fructose from fruit suffered the same metabolic consequences as those who have been consuming excess fructose from high fructose corn syrup, table sugar or honey. Moreover, even though these individuals were consuming few enough calories to lose weight they did not improve on their risk factors for the development of heart disease or stroke. The minimal fructose diet individuals saw such marked improvement in their biochemical profiles that many no longer could be given the diagnosis of metabolic syndrome or diabetes.

This is a landmark study because it verifies in a very direct way that daily, excess fructose from fruit is deleterious to your health. As my book, Fructose Exposed, points out, most of us can only handle about 10-15 grams of fructose per day without seeing the activation of the metabolic syndrome. We all know a lucky few who do not suffer this activation but for the 67 million adults and the many youths of America that are suffering from the metabolic syndrome, we need to reduce daily fruit intake if we want to have a chance at improving our risk of developing the diseases of this syndrome.

Fructose Exposed, Xulon Press, 2010.
Nutrition 28:1016-1021; 2012.